The Constitution is a framework built on the concept of negative liberty, defined as freedoms from external restrictions on a person’s behavior or choices. These liberties are called “negative” because they are defined in terms of what other people or institutions cannot do to you, rather than what they must do for you.
In other words, negative liberties are God-given and inherently natural rights. The government does not give us rights – we already have them.
Colorado is trying to flip this concept on its head. You’ll remember the years-long legal battle of Jack Phillips and the Masterpiece Cakeshop which reached the US Supreme Court, but rather than tackle the tough questions of liberty, the SCOTUS justices punted, ruling in favor of Phillips in a way that would have only limited bearing on future cases. So of course, just five years later, we find ourselves back here again, waiting for the Supreme Court to rule on compelled speech that contradicts one’s deeply held religious belief in the case 303 Creative v. Elenis.
Lorie Smith of 303 Creative is a website designer who does not want to use her skills to create websites that celebrate same-sex marriage, as is her right.
From our friends at the Daily Signal:
Lorie Smith… is a Christian and an artist who runs her own design studio, 303 Creative, and loves to serve everyone, regardless of who they are, promoting messages she’s passionate about. For messages that conflict with her deeply held beliefs, she’s made a choice not to create custom websites that promote those causes.
Her decision to create and promote custom wedding websites consistent with her beliefs has landed her at the U.S. Supreme Court, where she’s asking the justices to protect her right to create freely in the face of a Colorado law that threatens that freedom.
The state is arguing they have the authority to force a small business owner to create specific speech regardless of her personal beliefs. This is a truly dangerous policy.
As is good practice for those who seek to impose their beliefs on others through force, before giving the state the power to compel speech, let’s ask the activists how they would feel if the shoe was on the other foot. For example,
Should a transgender activist who is a freelance writer be compelled to write an article condemning gender transition if a Christian group asked them to?
Should a privately-organized “pride” parade be forced to include a float with a banner that opposes gay marriage?
The bottom line is that free speech is for everyone – but since the Masterpiece Cakeshop and 303 Creative cases involve faithful Christians who believe in natural marriage, they are labeled as discriminatory bigots.
Pray for Lorie Smith and the Supreme Court justices, that they affirm the free speech rights of all Americans.